After 14-year-old Indian-American student Harini Logan spelt 22 words in 90 seconds winning the national contest in the US recently, local spelling bee enthusiasts share tips on how to ace this hobby
Harini Logan wins the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee; Pic courtesy/Twitter
Pronunciation is key
Namrata Agarwal, advertising professional, 27
I loved reading since childhood and naturally gravitated towards spelling bee contests in school. Back then, there wasn’t adequate infrastructure to prepare properly, so my go-to resource was books. Most of these contests also test your knowledge of grammar and literature, so reading widely helps. It’s not about reading fiction or non-fiction, but being exposed to more words. I would also look up lists of difficult words online and get my mother to quiz me. I think that along with the spellings, the pronunciation of words is really important because that’s where a lot of spellers make mistakes. A lot of words are spelt differently as compared to the way that they are pronounced. Often, these are the trick words. In India, we don’t speak English at home as much, so it’s important to learn the correct pronunciation; one can hear the pronunciation on Google. It also helps to write down the spellings; when someone asks me to spell a difficult word, I imagine myself writing it to be able to say it.
Behind the words
Druv Raja, class 7 student, 12
Ever since I learned the English alphabet, my parents have been engaging me with a host of crossword games to help enhance my vocabulary. So, when the opportunity to participate in spelling bee contests came up, they really encouraged me. Reading a lot of story books, encyclopaedias and looking up meaning, phonetics and pronunciation of words helped me remember them. Instead of memorising the spellings and meanings, use these words in day-to-day conversations and understand their usage. That way, you can retain them better. There are also app-based games that I download and play to keep in touch with this hobby.
Play and learn
Honey Bharat Somaya, communications professional, 21
I started participating in spelling bee competitions when I was in class four. My neighbour used to be a school teacher so I had access to a 24x7 library of all kinds of books; I got into the habit of reading, highlighting new words and jotting them down. For spelling bee contests, read the practice booklet given by your school. Start solving crosswords in local newspapers or play games like scrabble and Wordle, through which you learn a lot of new words. Your ability to recall words and spellings is tested through these games. You should also connect with other spelling bee enthusiasts or participants and practise with them.
Keen to build on this hobby? Here are a few apps and websites to check out:
. Crossword Quest
. The New York Times Crossword which includes crossword and spelling bee
. Words with Friends 2